I am a mother of two little girls. My eldest, Rose, is a busy 2 1/2 year old. My youngest, Lily, is 7 months old. My toddler rarely stops moving, she is quite the creative busy bee, who is more than happy to pull up a chair and climb to get what she wants if I don’t get it to fast enough for her liking.
My baby has some health challenges. Lily was diagnosed with failure to thrive about 4 months ago. Due to the fact she hasn’t been gaining weight well I’m still having to wake her up to feed her at night. So I am currently sitting in the chair I feed her in trying not to fall asleep before I can put her down and crawl into bed. (She needs to be held upright for 30 minutes after a feed before I can lay her down due to her acid reflux). She seems to have turned a corner since we figured out she has dairy and soy allergies, but it has been a struggle to get weight on her, and we have had a lot of set backs, but we are finally getting there.
In any case, we are super busy. We usually have at least 2-5 appointments a week between the various members of the family.
My eldest is also a late napper which pushes back bedtime. By the time she wakes up from her nap it is supper time and then we are late getting her back to bed.
My point is I run a very busy household, so you may wonder “How do I even find time to sew?”
The answer is: a little bit at a time.
It took awhile to get the house back in order after Christmas so I really haven’t gotten much done yet this month, but it is all baby steps. Yesterday I organized my patterns I used for Christmas while both my girls were napping at the same time. That rarely happens! I got the patterns I want to work on next organized and ready to print while they were sleeping and when the were finally down for the night I got my patterns printed. Hopefully tomorrow I will have the time to assemble my patterns and maybe the next day I can start on cutting everything out.
My least favourite part of sewing is cutting. My cutting table is a large collapsible table that is stored out in the garage when it isn’t in use, so I like to cut out multiple projects at once when I do get it out.
I can get a bit of a mental block when it comes to starting a project. Once I get everything cut out though I can get things done a lot more quickly.
One thing I like to do are “Sew a-longs” Or SAL for short. A SAL is when a group of people sew the same thing (be it a pattern or tackling a challenge like a zipper) at the same time. Whoever is hosting the SAL sets a task for the day, demonstrates how to do it and takes questions from the group. SALs are great because the tasks are usually small so you get a little bit done every day and in about a week you have a finished project, plus there is a great support system if you are having any problems! Two of my favourite pattern makers, Made for Mermaids, and Patterns for Pirates, are hosting a sew a long starting in a couple days. This particular sew a long is for a new bra pattern, which I have been assured is beginner friendly. I can’t wait to try it out! I have never made a bra before so it should be fun, I will let you know how it goes.
If you take this principle of doing just a little bit every day or even once a week it makes it easier to fit time to sew in. Sure it may take a week or a month to make a shirt or a pair of pants but in the end you still have the finished project and the sense of pride that you made something!
This post for example has taken me two days to write. Although I started the post at 2 am while holding my daughter upright after a feed, I am currently sitting in that same chair doing the same thing before putting her down for her afternoon nap. Her sister is also sleeping right now. If I’m lucky I can sneak off to my sewing space and work on my current projects before they wake up.
You can also recruit help. My toddler loves baths. If I need some time to get something done I will sometimes get my husband to give my daughter a bath and if my baby isn’t sleeping I will stick her in her swing or create a safe space for her to play on the floor where I can see her and work on my project.
In the run up to Christmas my aunt was up helping us out, life was chaotic and her help was essential in getting ready for Christmas. I set my sewing stuff up in the living room (my sewing space doubles as a guest room and my sewing table is inaccessible when the bed is set up). My aunt helped with the kids and I got a lot of sewing done, sometimes with my toddler on my lap “helping” guide the fabric into the machine but keeping her fingers far from the needles. My wonder clips wandered off quite a few times but they always came back.
I will sometimes sneak off to do some sewing while my mother in law is over helping out, but my toddler has developed some separation anxiety since I had to stay in the hospital with my baby for awhile and doesn’t like it when I shut her out of a room.
I also like taking my sewing on the road to my parents house, my mom has an amazing sewing room. I usually only have to bring about half my supplies with me, plus the project I’m working on as my mom is a quilter so it is usually just the knit fabric specific tools I need to bring.
If all else fails there is always distraction. I will set my laptop up with a Disney movie for my toddler and hand her some crayons and paper and let her colour while I sew. It usually doesn’t last long before she is trying to get into my drawers and climb onto my lap, but it buys me a bit of time.
Nap time and bed time are the easiest times to sew but sometimes with a little help or a distraction you can squeeze in enough time to get your project done even when they are awake.